It is Week 4 of the NFL and the Jets are 2-1, sitting atop the AFC East with some useful tie-breakers in hand. If you listen to some fans who have commented on GGN or even the alleged "experts" around the blogosphere, you might think Gang Green was 0-3 and headed for the #1 pick in the draft. It makes sense that following the loss of the team’s best player people might start to panic a bit, especially when that one player dictates so much of the defense’s identity and approach.
This blog post is not about dissecting how the Jets can win without Revis, or how Sanchez needs to step up and become a true leader (both true). Instead, my goal in writing this is to provide some perspective for those that want to see the full landscape that surrounds our beloved Jets team, and how there may be more to be optimistic about than some would think. Here… we…….. go!
Let's start with our previous wins/losses. We demolished the Bills in Week 1, a team many expected to supplant the Jets as 2nd best team in the division. The Bills have since handled the Chiefs and Browns pretty handily. We lost at the Steelers in Week 2 (without Revis), and the game was winnable until a fluke TD to Mike Wallace which Cromartie misplayed. We barely beat the Dolphins in Week 3, but a win is a win and good teams find a way to win. What makes me think this is true? Why don't you ask our next opponent?
Our next opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, has the same 2-1 record as the Jets. Many experts pegged the 49ers as a top team after their 2-0 start. Things came crashing down this past week when they were thoroughly handled by the Minnesota Vikings, a team everybody is picking for last in the NFC North. So, how important are close wins to the 49ers? The 49ers won several close games last year but were less than dominant when playing in the Central/Eastern time zones:
- At Cincinnati: 13-8 (actual football score, yes)
- At Philadelphia: 24-23 (you might recall the Eagles imploded in this game)
- At Detroit: 25-19 (the infamous handshake game)
- At Washington: 19-11 (you might recall the Skins stunk last year)
- At Baltimore (LOSS): 6-16 (the Harbaugh Bowl)
Now don't get me wrong - the 49ers are a GREAT defensive team and have more offensive talent this year. But you will notice above that each of their wins was by 8 points or less. In those 5 games, they averaged 17 pts/game offensively. The Jets on the other hand, were 6-2 at home last year, with losses coming to both Super Bowl participants (Patriots and Giants) only. The team averaged just under 26 pts/game at home, which most would agree should be enough to prevail against the 49ers.
If you factor in games this year, the Jets have scored 48 pts in their lone home game, while the 49ers have scored 13 points in their lone Central/Eastern timezone road game. A win for the Jets here in Week 4 against a team without a WR worthy of Revis Island coverage could be just what the team needs to kick off this crucial 3-game homestand, which continues against the Houston Texans and ends against the inexperienced Indianapolis Colts.
My prediction for Week 4: Jets win 20-16 and head into Week 5 against the Texans with the AFC's best record on the line. For those that want more optimism, the Patriots next 3 games: At Buffalo, Denver, At Seattle. None of those games will be easy.
NOTE: The 49ers played the St. Louis Rams in the Central timezone in Week 17 last year - I chose to leave this game out of the discussion due to the various end-of-season factors that surrounded that game for both teams.